5 Tips for Keeping Your Home Energy Costs Down

hand turning dial on thermostat to save moneyAre you looking for easy ways to cut down on energy costs in your home?

Here in the Milwaukee area, we can get pretty extreme temperature swings. So, in the summer, you blast the air conditioner to keep you cool. In the winter, you keep your entire house warm with the heating constantly on. Either way, your electrical bills skyrocket, taking a toll on your budget.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to reduce these expenses without investing in energy-saving appliances. Keep reading to find out how you can enjoy your home all year long and keep your electricity bills low.

5 Tips for Reducing Energy Costs

Running a household can be expensive, especially with the bills piling up. Read on to discover the best ways to save electricity in your Milwaukee home.

1. Clean the Air Conditioning Filters

Clogged AC filters are among the main culprits for high power bills. After using the AC for an entire summer, the filters collect dust that prevents the cold air from flowing freely.

Before you start using the AC, make sure to replace all filters and keep them clean throughout the year.

2. Cover Window and Door Cracks

Sealing window and door cracks may contribute to a lower energy bill.

Though seemingly insignificant, these holes around windows and doors can make the heated or cooled air in your home escape. This makes the heating and conditioning systems work harder to make up for the lost air, costing you more money on bills.

To fix these gaps, use a silicone sealant for window cracks, replace the weatherstripping around the doors, and seal all holes on exterior walls using expanding foam. There may be gaps around electrical boxes, pipes, and gas lines, so make sure to seal those as well.

3. Use Portable Heating and Cooling Appliances

The air conditioner and furnace use a lot of energy to keep your entire house at optimal temperature. If you want to cut down on energy costs, consider using portable heating and cooling appliances. For example, if you spend most of your time in the living room, keep that room colder or warmer and reduce your use of your AC or furnace.

The house will still be pleasantly warm or cool, and you can bring the heater or fan with you as you switch rooms.

4. Replace Your Old Thermostat

Thermostats can be the cause of high energy bills, especially if they’re older. New programmable thermostats, however, can adapt to your lifestyle. They “learn” when to adjust the temperature in the house based on when you’re not at home, what time you sleep, and when you’re the most active.

This feature allows you to save money in the long run. And, you only pay for the thermostat once.

5. Find Alternative Ways to Cook

If you don’t cook much at home or prepare lighter meals, there’s no need to turn on your big stove. Get a mini one that you can easily fit into a corner in your kitchen or backyard to cook your food.

Using your microwave, slow cooker, or grill are other ways to save a lot of money on electricity.

Now You Know How to Pay Less for Electricity

Reducing your energy costs is easy with these simple, effective tips! For more useful articles on home maintenance and energy efficiency, check out our blog.

If you’re interested in finding out how upgrading your home’s heating or cooling systems can also increase your energy efficiency, contact us today or call us at 262-691-0402.

Milwaukee Homeowner’s Guide to Radon Testing and Mitigation

graphic of a house shape with the words "radon air testing"

Over 20,000 Americans are killed by radon in a single year. Here are the facts:

  • Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause lung cancer, especially if you’re exposed to high levels of radon over a long period of time.
  • When you breathe in radon, it destroys the cells that line your lung. And, while smoking can put you at a higher risk of developing radon-related cancer, it certainly impacts nonsmokers too.
  • Usually, radon comes into your home through cracks in your walls or floors, and from the soil in your yard.

So, how do you test for radon? And why is radon testing and mitigation so important? Read on to find out.

Radon Testing: The Basics

In general, there are two main kinds of radon testing: short-term and long-term tests.

You should use a short-term test to test your home about twice each year. However, if you notice that you’ve been coughing up blood, getting hoarse more frequently, or even have a cough that just doesn’t seem to quit, you will want to consult a physician and test more often to ensure there isn’t a problem.

Short-term testing can help you determine if a more extensive test is needed. You should leave the test kit in a low-activity room in your home for about two to six days. Then, mail your test to a lab.

This step is why so many homeowners choose to have their radon tested professionally. That way, they can feel good about the lab they’re working with.

There are also long-term and continuous radon testing options, which are electronic monitors that plug into an outlet in your home.

How Does Radon Mitigation Work?

The goal of radon mitigation is to lower the level of radon gas in your home or any commercial building. The process often includes caulking the foundation of your property, covering up any soil that’s in or too close, and sealing off the cracks in your walls.

Additionally, a radon mitigation system is used to pull dangerous radon gas out of your home and away from your soil.

This is accomplished by using a ventilation pipe and fan. This pipe, which is usually made out of PVC, usually remains attached to the side of your home. This way, it continually works to keep your home’s levels of radon gas under control.

So, how often will the system need to be replaced? Usually, you’ll need to replace your radon mitigation fans anywhere from every 5 – 20 years. It depends on the make and model you use.

Do You Need Professional Radon Testing?

We hope that this post has helped you better understand who should test for radon and why radon testing is so important. Obviously, when it comes to the health and safety of your family, there’s no reason to take any risks.

If you think you may have a radon problem, get in touch with us today to schedule a test or discuss your mitigation options. Also, be sure to check out the other home improvement services we provide.

Spring Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips to Keep You Cool All Summer

outdoor air conditioner

Spring has arrived, and you’re likely feeling that urge to get things ready for summer. As that fresh air moves in, you’re probably dusting, cleaning, and airing things out.

But you may have forgotten one important thing: Have you spring-cleaned your air conditioner?

Many of us forget that air conditioner maintenance is one spring cleaning item that can save us lots of cash. Maintaining your AC should be more than simply changing a filter or checking batteries. And, while it may sound complicated, it really isn’t.

Keep reading for some simple AC maintenance tips that will help keep you cool all summer.

Maintenance Tips for Your Outside Unit

Performing some simple cleaning of your outside unit can really make a difference. As much as 40 percent of the energy used to cool your home could be wasted if you don’t properly maintain your unit.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Remove all debris from off the unit and clean the surrounding area.
  • Clear all branches and plants within two feet of the unit to allow for proper air flow.
  • Rake up any lingering leaves.
  • Turn off power to the unit, then carefully remove the outer covers.
  • Using a vacuum brush, remove all outside dirt and any remaining debris.
  • Then follow up with a light hose off, spraying through the fins. If the unit is particularly dirty, a specialized cleaning spray can be used.
  • Fix any imperfections you notice in the unit, including bent fins.
  • Check the leveling. An out-of-level unit can cause the compressor to fail more quickly than it should.

Indoor Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

Once you’ve finished outside and have replaced the unit cover, it’s time to check your indoor cooling components.

Here are our tips for maintaining your indoor unit:

  • Clean your system’s evaporator coil and unclog the drain if need be. Research how to clean air conditioning coils if needed.
  • Check the thermostat and perform any cleaning and battery replacements that are required. A properly performing thermostat is essential for keeping your bills down!
  • Reset the thermostat if needed.
  • Clean all vents to make sure they are free of dust and debris. Any obstructions should also be moved.
  • Replace your air filter and check it monthly, even if the filter shouldn’t need to be changed that often.

Lastly, ceiling fans can be a great help to lowering your air conditioning bills. Dust all fans and set rotations to counterclockwise. This will force cool air downward.

Call for Help When Needed

Despite your regular maintenance, it’s a good idea to have an HVAC servicing professional check your air conditioner occasionally. Repairs and installations should be done by trained technicians.

Technicians can also perform maintenance tasks that you cannot.

Begin Maintenance Today

Maintenance of your AC unit can really go a long way, so don’t forget to include it in your regular spring cleaning checklist. If you wait until your AC acts up, you may end up needing to pay thousands of dollars to replace it.

Instead, regularly perform these simple air conditioner maintenance tips to keep your cooling system running smoothly. It’ll save you in the long run!

To contact us about your air conditioner, visit our website or call us at 262-691-0402.

How Often Do You Need Air Conditioner Service?

An HVAC Technician Repairing Air Conditioning Unit

Air conditioners use about 5% of all the electricity produced in the U.S., costing homeowners more than $11 billion annually. And that’s not all. These systems require service over the years, which increases efficiency and can lower energy costs.

With regular air conditioning service, the lifespan of an AC unit is lengthened. Air conditioners have several parts, including coils and filters. Each must be maintained to reap the benefits of the air conditioner.

It’s important to know that maintaining an AC system isn’t just about trying to prolong the life of your unit. Decaying AC systems can result in dangerous situations inside a home.

To learn how often you need air conditioner management for its various parts, read on.

Air Conditioner Filters

Filters are a major part of each unit, and regular AC unit service is mandatory to clean or replace these filters. Clogged filters block airflow and prevent the system from running efficiently. Replacing or cleaning the filter or cleaning it will also reduce energy costs, saving you money in the process.

How often should you clean and replace your filters? At least every month or two, but it does depend on how often the air conditioner is running.

A blocked filter can lead to a systematic failure over time. To avoid paying between $3,000 and $7,000 for an entire replacement AC unit, schedule routine maintenance.

Air Conditioner Coils

Another integral part of an AC unit is the coils. There are actually two coils within an AC unit that need to be serviced periodically: the evaporator coil and the condenser coil.

The evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the air, will get dirty. If the filter is maintained, the evaporator coil will not become dirty as quickly.

The other coil, the condenser coil, is normally housed outside of your home or office. This coil can also become clogged with dirt and debris. Specialists advise to trim back any plants or trees to prevent foliage from falling into the coils and causing problems.

AC unit service encompasses coil replacements and cleanings, as well as filters. Like filters, coils should be cleaned and cleared of debris periodically. It is best to do this yearly rather than monthly.

Air Conditioning Drain Line

As an AC unit removes moisture in the air, it collects condensation that drips from the coils. The liquid then moves through a drain line and is deposited near the home’s soil or lawn.

Often, this drain line can become clogged with grime or sludge, and it will start to grow mold. The passage of fluids will stop once the gunk completely blocks the drain. Even with efficient filters and clean coils, a drain line can accumulate filth and stop draining properly.

Regular AC unit service should be scheduled every few months to make sure the drain line is working properly and clear of debris.

Need Air Conditioner Service for Your Home?

If you are in the Milwaukee, New Berlin, or Madison areas, The IHN Company are here to help with your plumbing issues.

Remember, regular air conditioner service increases the longevity of the unit. Services also ensure the parts are free of mold and dirt, so you continue to breathe fresh air every day.

Contact us today for an estimate, and let us get your AC back to operating at peak efficiency. Call us today at 262-691-0402 or visit our website for more information.

Does Radon Smell, and Other Answers to Common Radon Questions

Focus on Radon Chemical Element from the Mendeleev Periodic Table

We spend countless dollars and man-hours trying to purify our air of pollution, but some of the most dangerous substances come from nature itself. Radon is an under-appreciated threat, but it’s estimated that 1 in 15 US homes have unsafe radon levels.

How do you know if your home is that one in fifteen with a problem? Does radon smell or can you see it? Does it cause symptoms? Read on for the answers you need to protect your family.

Frequently Asked Questions About Radon

Radon is a natural gas that’s created when uranium in the environment breaks down. It may be natural, but it’s also radioactive, so the questions and answers below can help you protect your health.

Does Radon Smell?

One of the scariest facts about radon is that it doesn’t make itself known. Radon is naturally odorless and colorless, so you can’t rely on your smell or your sight to know if there’s a problem.

Why Is Radon Dangerous?

The primary danger of radon is that over time it can cause lung cancer by damaging the cells in your lungs. In fact, while smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer in the US, radon exposure is number two.

What Are the Symptoms of Radon Exposure?

Unfortunately, there are no symptoms of radon exposure, so you shouldn’t assume you aren’t being exposed just because you’re feeling fine.

It is, however, helpful to know the symptoms of lung cancer. That way, if it does develop, you can get early treatment and improve your chances of recovery. The symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A long-lasting cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarse throat
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain in the chest, especially while laughing or coughing
  • Frequent respiratory infections

How Does Radon Get Into My Home?

Because radon is released from rocks and soil, there are many ways it can get into your home. It typically enters through cracks in the structure or through building materials. Worse yet, once it’s inside your home, the insulation keeps it in so it becomes concentrated in a small space.

How Much Radon Is Safe?

If you have your home tested for radon, it will be measured in “picocuries per liter” of air. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers dangerous radon levels to be anything above four picocuries per liter.

How Do I Get Rid of Radon?

Radon should be handled by a professional. If you have high radon levels (or you think you may), you should call a radon mitigation expert. Radon specialists like us are able to install technology to remove the radon from your home and keep it out.

Protecting Your Home from Radon

Excessive radon is nothing to sneeze at, and because it doesn’t make itself apparent until it’s caused a serious illness, you can’t wait until you know about the problem.

It’s important to be proactive about testing your home for radon and taking radon mitigation steps if necessary. If you’re ready to take that step, contact our radon specialists today. We service the Milwaukee, New Berlin, and Madison areas.